Nikon Lens FAQ | byThom | Thom Hogan

Nikon Lens FAQ

Below you'll find some frequently asked questions about Nikkor lenses (and some generic lens questions, as well), complete with my answer. 

(This page is an "accordion" of the sub-pages: you can click on a colored header bar below to reveal the contents of that sub-page.)

What lens should I get to shoot children's sports?

A common question without a perfect answer for most. That's because all those great sports shots you've seen were mostly shot with pro bodies with fast, long lenses. And from positions that you can't always get to. It really is a combination of those things that drives most great sports photography.

The difference between a D4 and a 300mm f/2.8 and a D7000 and a 70-300mm f4-5.6 can be as much as four stops when all is considered. In low-light or indoor situations where the D4 shooter needs ISO 1600 to get 1/500 action-stopping shutter speeds at f/2.8, the D7000/70-300mm user needs to set their camera to ISO 6400 to compensate for the f/5.6 maximum aperture. ISO 6400 on a D7000 doesn't look as good as ISO 6400 on a D4.

So, the answer to this question is three-fold:

  1. Get the best high ISO camera you can afford, and it needs a good AF system. 
  2. Get fast lenses. For indoor work especially, you're better off with a shorter f/1.4 lens and cropping if you have to then you are with an f/5.6 lens.
  3. Get long lenses. For the big stadium sports, like football, soccer, and baseball, you're often very far from the action, so even 300mm usually won't cut it. 


Thus, about the lowest cost choices these days that get you close to ideal are a D600 or D800 body, some f/1.4 to f/2.8 primes (50mm, 85mm, 105mm, 135mm, 180mm), and/or the 70-200mm f/2.8 type of zoom. This still leaves you with the "long" problem. At present there's no great solution here, as most of the more modest-priced lenses are zooms that are f/5.6 or f/6.3 at maximum focal length (80-400mm, 150-500mm, etc.). Thus, you're probably just as well off adding a TC-20E III to your 70-200mm if you can't afford a 300mm f/2.8, 300mm f/4, 200-400mm f/4, or something even more exotic.

What's better than the 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 combo?

My Lens Zooms When Walking With my Camera

What is photographic equivalence?

What type of photography would require a 50mm lens?

How do I estimate the focal length I need?

Should I buy a third party lens for my Nikon body?

Why does my 18-200mm not seem like it gets to 200mm?

Do we still need fast lenses with great high ISO cameras?

Which VR Nikkors detect when they're on a tripod?

When should I use VR? When should I turn it off?

How many lenses has Nikon made?

Can I use Nikkor lenses on other cameras?

What's the difference between all the 50mm lenses?

Why can't Nikon make a stable tripod collar?

Why do some lens tests disagree?

Will we get sensors that outresolve our lenses?

If I focus at 24mm and zoom in to 120mm I lose focus

Why does my lens focus past infinity?

How do I correct the back focus my lens produces?

How do I manually focus lenses with current DSLRs?

I've got a small scratch on my lens. Is my lens worthless?

Nikon says I should ship a lens for repair without caps

I just dropped my new lens in the ocean, what should I do?

Should I get the 16-35mm, 17-35mm, or the 14-24mm?

Which of my lenses should I take to Yellowstone?

My 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor won't go to f/2.8!

I'm going to shoot a volcano. How do I clean my lens?

Which filter should I buy to protect my new lens?

Where is "Focus" Measured From?


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